The last few weeks have been tough. We moved into a 100 year old house a few months ago and have been renovating since we moved in. The house is gorgeous with a big wide porch in front and beautiful wood details inside. We are thrilled to be part of the story of this house. We keep joking that with the amount of work we've done on it, it will last another 100 years.
This beautiful old house makes me so happy. The hard part is that we hired a friend as a contractor and we trusted him completely. It turns out that he overcharged us quite substantially and the work that was done is not even close to finished yet. For the past few months, we've been living in half the house, my business has been in the living room, my office is our dining room table and all 3 kids have been sleeping in the same room (which they love of course). I am very trusting of people and I always assume the best of people, but in this case I was very wrong.
I have always thought that to do well in business, you just need to love what you do, try hard and never give up, but the more years I put into my business, the more I realize how many people are looking for quick money and how often they will capitalize on others to get it. Being an entrepreneur is often a very self-centred way to be. It makes sense as the entire business depends on one person. It is all about selling yourself, selling your products, selling your ideas, etc... It is all about you and how you deserve to earn more money and how you deserve to make a higher profit. Every business coaching workshop I've ever attended as been all about working less and getting paid more. Those are the two main goals in business.
But at what expense?
With the move in our society to value (even worship) the idea of enterprenership, I think we need to reexamine our values and make sure that we truly love what we do, and that we have have integrity in doing it. Those two things should be prioritized above all else and they should definitely be prioritized far higher than profits earned. This clip from Sharks Tanks sums that idea up perfectly for me. I couldn't be more in awe of Johnny for standing up for what he believes in and what we all should believe in.
Every time I watch this video I cry. The world needs more Johnny's! We need more entrepreneurs that can say "yeah, but you're selling to farmers" and "I've never done that (overcharged people), I always try to be right." The words of Johnny's dad are very true and words to live by: "No one owes you nothing, life is what you make it."
Too many entrepreneurs believe that they deserve to be paid very well for what they do. There is a culture of entitlement and the truth is, that I am guilty of it most of the time too. I complain a lot when things don't work out easily for me and I get frustrated every time I work in the store and it is a slow day. I find it very hard to understand how it is possible that I've worked at my business for almost 5 years and have yet to pay myself for my work. But despite all that, I love it. I love what I do and it shows. I will never put profits ahead of people. And even if I continue to work for free for the rest of my life, I will never lose the passion and dedication I feel to doing the right thing.
Another vendor at my store (Giving Gifts & Company - a cooperative store at 4570 Main St in Vancouver) told me that I am horrible at business. She'd lost two S'well bottles in a row and I told her to take a third one for free. Of course, I won't make money doing that, but I truly believe in treating people with kindness and going out of my way to provide great customer service. The store customers that came by on Valentines Day were treated to the yummiest salted caramel heart chocolates by Urge Chocolates as a small gesture of my thanks for supporting our local co-operative store. We often have surprises like that at the store. We are a small store with a big heart.
If there is one thing I can promise when you shop at Giving Gifts, it is that your purchases are truly making a difference. Your purchases are helping me live my dream of owning my own business and your purchases are giving back to the world in so many ways. I truly believe that we need to "buy the change we want to see in the world" and that by supporting entrepreneurs and artists we are making this world a better place to live.
As Johnny says: "When good people come together with a noble cause, great things happen." Thank so much for being part of a noble cause with me. Together, we'll make sure that great things happen. And as for that contractor, maybe karma (or guilt, or a lawsuit) will catch up to him one day.